EXCLUSIVE! Hema Malini, Rakesh Roshan, Paresh Rawal, Surekha Sikri On ‘Should 65 Plus Actors Be Allowed To Shoot In The COVID-19 Pandemic?’ | Hindi Movie News


The cast and crew in Bollywood and TV above the age of 65 cannot report for shoots in the wake of the present COVID-19 crisis, as per the state government’s advisory. CINTAA (Cine & TV Artistes Association) and IMPPA (Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association) have taken up the cudgels to fight for such professionals as this spanner has presented a big challenge on how they would carry on with their livelihood. A complaint in this regard, filed by actor Pramod Pandey, was heard in the High Court (second hearing) yesterday and the final hearing is slated for Wednesday (July 29).

But what do the senior members of India’s movies and television themselves feel? Are they really ready to venture out? Do they feel that the colleagues of their age-group should be back in the thick of things?

Rakesh Roshan tells ETimes, “I think there should be no discrimination. If a 65 or 65 plus person is fit and fine, then why not? Like everyone else, he/she should get a COVID-19 test done and if the report is negative, he/she should be heartily welcomed.”

But how does one ascertain that he/she is absolutely fit, we asked? “Well, that call should rest with the individual concerned. Nobody will be not true to his/her ownself in such precarious times. Take for example, my case. I wouldn’t go on the set and start a movie in such times because I was diagnosed with cancer last year. If that hadn’t happened, I would have resumed to be on the set. I am fine now but will take full precautions and wait for things to settle down.”

Hema Malini says, “There are several people in our industry who are 70 and 80 and they’re absolutely fit. If they are ready to come out and their family members too have given them their consent, I think it is unfair to restrict such elders. I know of families who do not allow the elders in their family to venture out at all, like for example, my brother’s kids constantly monitor that he stays indoors. It’s a slightly complicated issue no doubt, but what to do? I hear of many families suffering because the senior man in their family is the sole breadwinner.”

According to Paresh Rawal, “Stopping those who are 65 plus from doing their work is impractical. It is difficult to digest this even with a gulp. Are we stopping doctors? Are we stopping those who are providing us the essentials? Are politicians not stepping out to serve and meeting people? Then why have people from our industry been singled out? By this it means that none from our fraternity should come out of his/her home.”

Rawal continues, “Is anybody giving a guarantee that our industry people who are below 65 will not contract Coronavirus after coming on the set? There is absolutely no logic in this COVID-19 decision. Let me tell you my nephew passed away at the age of 53, my constituency’s MLA’s son passed away at the age of 40. On the other hand, I see an 80-plus man walking in Juhu Scheme jogging very well on the road. A lot of thought needs to be given on this. Tell me, how will Kaun Banega Crorepati be conducted, which imparts a huge amount of employment? Of course, I am not saying that we should be careless and foolhardy but it’s just that we are all in this together and need to fight it out together.”

Surekha Sikri, National Film Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress thrice for her roles in Tamas (1988), Mammo (1995) and Badhaai Ho (2018) and very popular on TV for her portrayals in Balika Vadhu and Banegi Apni Baat, says, “I am glad you asked me this question. Please look at people who are grievously harmed in the industry by the fact that they have to sit at home just because they have attained a certain age. Why do most men or women work after 65? One of the reasons is definitely money. Take my case. I met with a stroke sometime back and was partially paralysed. My medical expenses amount to Rs 2 lakh per month. Of late, I am not able to pay those bills. My constitutional right to look after my health has been violated. And mind you, I am getting sufficient work. But pray, how can I give out dates to the TV producers when I will not reach the shoot because I am debarred from shooting?”

IMPPA President T P Aggarwal concludes, “If 65-year olds and above can go to restaurants and other places of work, why should they be stopped from going to shoots? How will they live a dignified life then? What’s the point in starting farcical shoots where we cannot have a father, mother, grandfather or grandmother in the story?”

Adds Aggarwal, “How can a 65-year old producer who shells out loads of money be disallowed to enter and supervise his own set-up? Is that fair? And, are you aware that a large number of expert cameramen are above 65 years in our business? Won’t that amount to compromising on expertise?”


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